Ascent of Black Balsam Knob on 2015-12-29

Climber: Bradley R

Date:Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Black Balsam Knob
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:6214 ft / 1894 m

Ascent Trip Report

Why I chose this hike: To knock out some peaks on the "South Beyond 6000" list.

Where to park: Type "Black Balsam Parking" into Google Maps and it takes me there. Make sure the BRPW is open. When I went the Parkway was open, but was closed in a section the Google Maps tried to take me so I had to take an alternate route. There's an interactive map showing BRPW closings online, but I don't trust it 100% as it's been closed when the map said it's open at least once in the past.

The Drive: I almost turned around because the clouds were so thick, but as I drove up Black Mountain on I-40 I drove out of he clouds into pretty blue skies.

Weather: The weather was highly unusual for this time of the year. Late December above 6,000 feet and temperatures were in the 60s and may have even hit the 70s. It was sunny during the hike, but had been raining constantly over the last week, so water was running everywhere. It was pretty much impossible to keep your feet dry without waterproof boots, but it didn't matter since it was so warm wet feet weren't much of a problem. Wind was gusting pretty hard, sky was very sunny with a few thin clouds here and there.

The hike: I parked at the Art Loeb trail and hiked to Black Balsam Knob (~0.75 miles), then Tennent Mountain (~1.70 Miles). At 2.3 and 2.7 miles the Art Loeb trail intersects with the Investor Gap Trail, I stay on the Art Loeb. At around 3.2 miles I bushwhack up Grassy Cove Top, I didn't know there was a trail to the top, there is. The bushwhack was short, but pretty tough pushing through blackberry and blueberry thickets and some shrubs that were low enough that I had to crawl through certain areas. I took the trail back down, it Ts off of the Art Loeb trail about 200 yards from where I started bushwhacking, at this spur there has been limbs laid across the T so people won't follow the spur thinking it's the Art Loeb. On the return hike I take the Investor Gap trail at the 2nd intersection (~4.60 Miles). I take Investor Gap until I reach the parking lot at ~6.40 miles. Finally I walk the final 0.5 miles on the Black Balsam Rd for just under 7 miles of hiking. With few trees on these areas there were beautiful views everywhere. There was water running down all of the trails, in some places along the Investor Gap trail the reflection of the sun of the water running down the trail was blinding.

Was hiking with a minor cold, started feeling pretty bad just before I started back to the truck and my lower back was hurting pretty badly for some reason. Hadn't wanted a hike to be over with this bad in a while (though the views were beautiful).

The trails weren't crowded today, but I imagine they are much of the time, probably saw 7 or 8 other hikers. Also saw hunters who were shooting near the trail, which was making some people obviously uncomfortable.

These peaks are certainly on my redo list, there are enough trails that I can hike them from a different point. I would describe this hike as fairly easy for 6,000 foot peaks in western NC.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1642 ft / 499 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1642 ft / 500 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7 mi / 11.2 km
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Very Windy, Clear
Strong gusts of wind, sunny
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:320 ft / 97 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 313 ft / 96 m; Extra: 7 ft / 2m
    Loss on way in:7 ft / 2 m
    Distance:0.8 mi / 1.2 km
    Route:Art Loeb Trail
    Start Trailhead:Black Balsam Rd  5901 ft / 1798 m
    Time:20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1635 ft / 498 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 313 ft / 96 m; Extra: 1322 ft / 402m
    Gain on way out:1322 ft / 402 m
    Distance:6.2 mi / 10 km
    Route:Art Loeb/Investor Gap/Black Balsam Rd
    End Trailhead:Black Balsam Rd  5901 ft / 1798 m
    Time:2 Hours 55 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Black Balsam Knob

Complete Trip Sequence:
 Black Balsam Knob2015-12-29 a1642 ft / 500 m
 Tennent Mountain2015-12-29 b 
 Grassy Cove Top2015-12-29 c 
Total Trip Gain: 1642 ft / 500 m    Total Trip Loss: 1642 ft / 500 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Bradley R
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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